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SBIR Phase I: MEMS-Engineered Thermal-Barrier Bragg Reflectors for Gas-Turbine Engine Blades
Phone: (617) 547-1122
Phone: (617) 547-1122
This Small Business Innovation Research project will develop a potentially revolutionary technological innovation that will significantly increase the efficiency, lifetime and reliability of gas-turbine engines. Despite the tremendous improvements in coating technologies to enable huge increases in operational temperatures, continued advances using conventional, purely materials-science approaches have resulted in diminishing marginal returns in the last 25 years. The problem is that the turbine blades heat up as a result of radiative and conductive heat transport. Using MEMS-fabrication methods, the team will develop a technique to coat the blades with Bragg reflectors, tailored to the spectrum of the radiation, that will decrease the thermal radiation from the surface to the turbine blades tenfold, thereby providing the means to (1) increase turbine-blade lifetime; and (2) attain considerably higher operating efficiencies by operating the engines at significantly higher temperatures. The team will fully characterize the material requirements of the layered coatings and model the characteristics of an optimal Bragg reflector. The economic value of the proposed technology will be driven by its capability to reduce the cost of existing equipment by over $10 billion annually. These savings will come from four major market sectors: (1) more efficient, high-performance turbines for commercial aircraft that will result in a fuel saving of $5 billion annually; (2) annual savings from the power-generation industry of $6 billion; (3) cost reduction to the US military of $5 billion in annual fuel costs; and (4) reduction in the cost-of-ownership of US military attack/tactical aircraft by $1.6 billion annually. These fuel savings will in turn reduce oil consumption providing significant environmental and political benefits to society. Finally, introducing advanced MEMS techniques into turbineblade development will advance the technical understanding of materials limitations and properties.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *